DP12270 | Household Debt and Monetary Policy: Revealing the Cash-Flow Channel

Publication Date

09/05/2017

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Abstract

We examine the cash-flow channel of monetary policy, i.e. the effect of monetary policy on spending when households hold debt linked to short-term rates such as adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). Using registry-based data on Swedish households, we estimate substantial heterogeneity in consumption responses to a change in monetary policy through the cash-flow channel. Our findings imply that monetary policy has a stronger effect on real economic activity when households are highly indebted and have ARMs. For homeowners with a debt-to- income ratio of around 3 and ARMs, the estimated response is equivalent to a marginal propensity to consume of 0.5.